Annie’s Song-Red Dog Ash-Barbershop-Playing Catch

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Thought for the day: I’ve been reading a book about Anti-Gravity and I can’t put it down.

Item 1: Annual Spring Camp Out in Turlock.

I set my old fashioned alarm clock to 5 a.m. so I could get an early start, beat the traffic and make the long drive to the Turlock Fair Grounds for the annual CBA Camp Out. When you get to be 65 every minute of daylight, every extra hour of sleep, every saved step is needed for those thankless hours driving on the endless roads of America. I didn’t mind the drive on this road leading me to that small farming community of Turlock that is home to the annual CBA Spring Camp Out. Rick had made a special request I attend the camp out because he was in dire need of having his rather unkempt and shaggy beard trimmed. I did owe Rick one or two favors that he read off to me from his black leather “favors allocated-favors owed log.” I wanted to keep our friendship from withering on our 65 year old vines so I agreed to hone the scissors and clippers and get prepared.

I packed my luggage kissed my wife good by and set out on the long windy road to the Turlock Fairgrounds. Any of you that know me know that I have a terrible sense of direction so with the help of Map quest (an app on our new Mackintosh computer) I was able to click on some buttons and easy to read written directions were displayed. I pressed another button and a map appeared. What will these folks think of next?

After what seemed like an eternity and frequent stops at various gas stations ($3.79 a gallon) I pulled into Rick’s spot at the fair grounds and parked next to his bright shiny new $175,000 black and orange Winnebago. I got out of my modest Toyota Matrix and looked for Rick. Unable to locate him my ears were drawn to the beautiful voice of a female singer a few camps from Rick’s site and I slowly headed toward the music. I walked into a campsite populated with about 8 or 9 folks playing various bluegrass instruments. At the center of attention was a young lovely lady, 20 or so, singing a song with the most extraordinary beautiful lilting voice.

The young lady was singing a song about a train and I could not believe the depth and emotion she packed into every lyric. It was a difficult song to sing and yet she was making it look all so easy. Like a magnet I was drawn closer to the jam to catch every note, every nuance or her song. A rough tap on my shoulder broke the musical spell and my shaggy bearded friend gave me a quick hug and offered me a glass of a recently decanted vintage bottle of 1989 Ripple. I thanked Rick and we chatted briefly and both of us just gazed and listened to this beautiful singer and song. I kept telling Rick she looked familiar. Rick said she should look familiar since I had been introduced to her last year at the KCSS radio station in Turlock. Her name was Annie and she was Marcos Alvira’s daughter. Then it all came back to me. She was a DJ at the college radio station. I had no idea she was an outstanding singer who had the poise of a Streisand.

The three of us talked for a few minutes and the subject of trains and train songs came up. Of course I brought up the wonderful Jimmie Rodgers and asked Annie if she knew any of his songs. She shook her head and then Rick went into a dissertation about the wonderful song, “The train that carried Jimmie Rodgers home.” Between sobs and tears I added my own recollections about Jimmie Rodgers and how much I loved his music. Annie said she would check out his music and wished Rick and me well as she had to make her way back to her camp. I looked at Rick and said what a treat it was to see such a wonderful singer like Annie perform right there in camp. I hope Annie keeps singing because she has a great voice with style to match.

We went back to Rick’s campsite and Rick dragged out a couple of mitts and a new baseball. For some strange reason Rick wanted to play catch and for some strange reason I felt like it would be fun. So there on the fairgrounds were two old fogies tossing the horsehide back and forth and suddenly we were two ten year old friends tossing the ball back and forth in Rick’s driveway. Thanks Rick for being crazy enough to bring the mitts and the ball.

After about twenty minutes Rick said it was time for me to repay favor # 3 (from his black leather bound log) and trim his beard. If you ever thought that wrestling a crocodile was difficult try trimming the beard of someone who is unable to sit still for twenty seconds or remain silent for six. After a few “re-do’s” I got the sides and chin evened up and Rick looked halfway presentable.

Later that evening I was excited about seeing my friend, Jason Winfrey, perform with Red Dog Ash at the little stage area that had been set up. I had a chance to talk to Jason before he and the group went on stage. Jason is a professor of philosophy at CSUS(head of the department) and is one very smart bluegrass guitar picker/singer/songwriter. The CBA is lucky to have him and the group as part of their association. Unlike the majority of bluegrass bands, Red Dog Ash writes most of their material and when they perform their professionalism is solid.They began their set and I was excited about seeing my friend sing songs Jason and his bandmates had written. But there was a small problem. After about four songs countless nerves in my legs, back and right arm began to tingle and ache. I was in pain and then began to feel quite uncomfortable. Then it dawned on me. Playing catch with Rick for twenty minutes had roused muscles that had lain dormant in this old body of mine for 55 years. They had been tweaked and now I was paying the price. I slowly got up, left the stands, trudged off to my car made the long drive home. I ran a hot bath, gently eased myself into the tub and soaked. After a half hour or so I brewed myself a nice pot of steaming tea, wrapped myself into a warm comforter and began reading the latest issue of AARP.

Item 2: The CBA if lucky to have Turlock as its venue for the spring camp out. Ninety nine per cent of the folks love it.There is that one per cent that have a hard time with our wonderful trains and their not so wonderful whistles howling at 3 a.m. in the morning. I need to be totally honest with you. To me there is nothing like hearing a train whistle whether it be morning,noon,or night.That train whistle represents to me all those times as a child I would wake up in the middle of the night in my room in the Hayward Highlands and through my open window I could hear the freights trains chugging through downtown Hayward as that lonesome whistle blew. It made me feel like life was going on while the city slept slept and for some strange reason that gave me a feeling of security. I guess I am just a romantic at heart.

Item 3: Wind Chimes: Refer to item# 2. Some folks absolutely hate wind chimes. Me? I must have at least have ten beautiful sounding wind chimes hanging from various beams, tree branches, and fences, and patio covers,around our back yard. I would have another ten if I could find a hammer and then I could hang them up if I could find some nails.

Item 4: Sheila just bought this brand new Mac and I haven’t figured out how to use all the dials and knobs so this column is being e-mailed to Rick in the form of an an e-mail instead of being downloaded from an attachment. Any mistakes etc. please understand.

Until June, Read a book, hug a child,pet a dog, stroke a cat, eat a chocolate bar and dance like no one is watching.

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